Bulls

Volstad claimed as Cubs continue to clean house

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Volstad claimed as Cubs continue to clean house

The Royals claimed Chris Volstad off waivers on Friday, ending the big hopes the Cubs had when they acquired him last winter.

The big right-hander was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals Friday afternoon.

Volstad, a former first-round pick of the Marlins, came over in the deal that sent Carlos Zambrano to South Beach. The 6-foot-8 starter never put it together with the Cubs, enduring a 24-start winless streak that began late in 2011 with the Marlins and was finally snapped Aug. 26 at Wrigley Field.

Volstad spent time in Triple-A Iowa in 2012 and was in manager Dale Sveum's doghouse for much of the season after failing to stick to the gameplan. In 21 starts for the big-league club, he compiled a 3-12 record with a 6.31 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

The Cubs made a flurry of other moves Friday, clearing room on the 40-man roster by outrighting four more players -- Joe Mather, Manny Corpas, Justin Germano and Blake Parker -- to Triple-A Iowa.

Corpas elected free agency while Parker was removed from the 60-man roster before being outrighted.

Mather -- dubbed "Super Joe" by manager Dale Sveum in May -- won a utility spot with a strong spring and his versatility helped the 30-year-old journeyman notch 225 at-bats. He struggled at the plate, hitting just .209.256.324 despite a strong start, which included a seven-game stint as the team's No. 3 hitter.

Corpas burst onto the scene in 2007 as the Rockies' closer, saving 19 games with a 2.08 ERA, but his career has been derailed since with ineffectiveness and injury. He missed all of 2011 to Tommy John surgery and the Cubs took a chance on the 29-year-old reliever last winter. Corpas finished the year with a 5.01 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 48 games.

Germano was claimed off waivers mid-season from the Red Sox and was inserted into the starting rotation shortly after, replacing the injured Matt Garza. Germano, a 30-year-old righty, compiled a 2-10 record with a 6.75 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 13 games for the Cubs, including 12 starts.

These moves come a day after the Cubs outrighted four other players, marking 10 players removed from the 40-man roster in the last couple of days.

Observations from Bulls-Lakers: Jabari's back in the rotation and Lakers fans get no tacos!

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USA TODAY

Observations from Bulls-Lakers: Jabari's back in the rotation and Lakers fans get no tacos!

The Bulls have now lost eight straight. The most recent defeat came in Los Angeles against a LeBron-less Lakers team, and there's not a whole lot to take from it. But we tried to find three items.

1. It was just one game, but Jabari Parker looks reinvigorated

Jabari Parker looks like he's back in the rotation to stay - or until he's traded - and while it was just a one-game sample size, he sure looks like he wants to remain there, too.

Parker's statline won't jump out in the box score but he made a few plays defensively and was arguably the Bulls' best offensive player. He hit a couple tough jumpers, made an important hustle play in the fourth quarter and finished with a jam. He wasn't outstanding defensively but played a few passing lanes and contested a few shots inside.

All isn't forgiven, and he isn't going to give Rudy Gobert a run for his money for Defensive Player of the Year, but it's about baby steps with Parker. Whether it's to help the Bulls progress as a young team, or to showcase his talents (we're using that word liberally) for a potential trade, these are seriously important games for Parker and the Bulls.

Part of his night came in that frantic stretch in the final minutes of the game (see below) and he finished with a team-high 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting, a pair of 3-pointers, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in just 17 minutes.

The better Parker plays, the more interest there is in him around the league. His contract still makes him a minimal asset and the Bulls can't expect to get much in return for him, but it beats him rotting on the end of the bench or taking minutes away from Markkanen or Bobby Portis.

2. Shaq Harrison rips out the heart of 21,000+ at Staples Center

If you're a true #AuthenticFan and stayed up through the end of the Bulls game you saw an incredible fourth quarter run in which the Bulls....denied Lakers fans free tacos.

Staples Center and the Lakers run a promotion where if the team wins and holds its opponent under 100 points, all fans in attendance get free tacos from Jack In The Box.

Fans looked to be in good shape as the Bulls had just 83 points with 2:19 remaining. From there, the Bulls' possessions went: 2 made free throws (85), layup (87), 3-pointer (90), dunk (92), one free throw (93), layup (95), 3-pointer (98). There were just 35 seconds remaining at that point, when Jabari Parker missed two free throws and gave the ball back to the Lakers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope split a pair of free throws with 19.2 seconds left. And on the Bulls' presumably final possession, Shaq Harrison missed a 3-pointer, but Ryan Arcidiacono grabbed an offensive rebound and found Harrison on the left wing, who pump faked and drew a foul on Ivica Zubac.

Harrison made the first two free throws to give the Bulls 100 points and send fans home hungry. The entire sequence was amazing.

3. It doesn't get any easier for the Bulls

The Bulls have now lost eight straight games, four more than the second longest losing streak in the league (New York). And the road isn't getting any easier.

They'll finish this difficult West Coast road trip on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, who were just embarrassed by the Warriors on their home floor. You can bet the West's top seed is going to come out and play with some serious passion. That spells trouble for the Bulls.

On Saturday the Bulls return home to face the Heat, who are all sorts of a mess right now. But that first game after a road trip is a seriously difficult one. That could easily be a loss.

Then the Zion Bowl occurs on Monday: Bulls-Cavs.

It's the Cam Payne revenge game and it's going to be glorious. The Bulls should win that one, but then again....the Cavaliers beat the Lakers in L.A. on Tuesday and the Bulls couldn't do that.

Joe Maddon states that Bryce Harper on Cubs "not going to happen"

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon states that Bryce Harper on Cubs "not going to happen"

Per Jesse Rogers of ESPN, after being asked if the Cubs would sign mega-free agent Bryce Harper, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon replied “Not going to happen”.

This retort from Maddon falls in line with the stance that ownership has reportedly taken in the Harper sweepstakes.


The Cubs could no doubt use some help to boost their up-and-down offense but it looks like it won’t come in the form of Harper. As of now, the Phillies still sit as the front-runners for the mega-free agent after reports of a 5-hour meeting between the two side arose